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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

BASHŌ WOULD CRY, THEN . . .

A Tanka Anticipating Summer in Honor of Matsuo Bashō
On the Occasion of Japan’s Three Mega-Banks Receiving All Fs on the 2017 Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card

by John Brooks 


"There's no question that funding climate change is a deadly investment strategy," stated Jenny Marienau, 350.org's U.S. campaigns director. "Yet banks around the world are funneling billions of dollars into the fossil fuel projects leading us closer to catastrophic warming every day." —Common Dreams, June 21, 2017. Image source: Rainforest Action Network/Report Cover Detail


dream cicadas thrum
as banks bake-rape the planet
fossil fueling greed
annihilating Earth wa
Bashō would cry … then protest


Author’s Notes: The poem utilizes the traditional Japanese poetic form of the tanka—with its five-line pattern of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7 syllables—which was one of the forms employed by Japan’s most famous poet Matsuo Bashō many of whose works exude his deep love and respect for nature.
     “wa” is a term for a traditional Japanese cultural concept related to holistic harmony.
     As for “Anticipating Summer” in the poem’s subtitle (though this poem was completed on June 24th), “summer” in Japan isn’t considered to have actually begun until semi (Japanese for cicadas) start their yearly rhythmic buzzing following the end of Japan’s rainy season sometime in July.


John Brooks, a longtime resident of Japan, is a writer, child sexual abuse survivor-activist, climate change activist, and animal rights activist (among other things, of course) deeply concerned with anthropogenic global warming and its massively dystopian consequences if humanity’s thoroughly inadequate—though in some locations and respects noticeably improving—response continues. His self-published novella Preludes depicting the horror of child sexual abuse from a child’s perspective, has received favorable reviews by readers and is available for free download on various ebook sites.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, EVEN IF IT KILLS US

by George Salamon


“Young Americans are dying from despair. After the Great Recession, people aged between 25 and 44 started to overdose on opioids at an alarming pace. Overall, death rates for this age group rose an astounding 8% between 2010 and 2015.” —Jessika Bohon,  “Deaths of despair are rising in America. They are claiming lives all around me,” The Guardian, June 22, 2017. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images via The Guardian.


Flavius Josephus chronicled
The suicide of 960 Jews in 73 CE
Besieged by a Roman legion in Masada.
It may be history, it may be legend.
What young Americans are doing today
Is the real thing.
It is making America ugly and mean
And a mockery of the American Dream.


George Salamon has been watching the crumbling of the American Dream in and from St. Louis, MO.

Monday, June 26, 2017

QUESTION TIME

by Jerome Betts


Theresa May Caricature by Masakonen


T. M. still PM? Why is this?
The leader Fortune gave a miss
A faded star that’s on the blink,
A stock which now can only sink,
A Premier who’s lost the plot,
Majority and trust, the lot,
But carries on, a headless hen,
Behind the door of Number Ten?

Not hard, perhaps, to read the runes.
The five-watt bulbs and weird buffoons
The Tories muster to compete
To win her hot and thorn-strewn seat
Prefer to leave the Brexit folly
To blow up on some other wally,
And so until that dismal day
We’re stuck with hopeless hapless May.


Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, where he edits the quarterly Lighten Up On Line. His verse has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web venues such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Light,  Per Contra, TheNewVerse.News, The Rotary Dial and Snakeskin.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

BOY TURNED GIRL

by William Ruleman


Image source: National Geographic


You gaze from the face of the magazine at me,
And you are beautiful, I have to say,
Despite an impish male audacity
That lingers round your lips and eyes the way
A lad will do when forced into a fray.
O brave new world indeed, when we can change
Impediments in us that make us strange
To all the wonder that most suits the soul!
Some surgeries can show us who we are—
Can heal us, make us healthy, human, whole—
And whether love is near to us or far,
We know how we will meet it, play our role.
Not so when manmade tribal mutilations
Cheat the flesh of heavenly sensations!
The Lord God guard you from all hate and harm:
Self-righteous rants and priggish piety,
Lascivious longings and resentment’s storm.
May you find in saints’ society
A means to keep your heart and senses warm,
And may your offspring—if you have them—know
The gracefulness and courage you now show.


Editor's Note: Meanwhile . . . "A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals this week lifted a lower court injunction that had stopped the implementation of what many legal observers and LGBTQ activists view as the worst, most dangerous legislative attack on LGBTQ people yet. . . . The law allows for businesses and government employees to decline service to LGBT people, and that includes bakers, florists, county clerks and even someone working at the department of motor vehicles, based on religious beliefs. It allows for discrimination in housing and employment against same-sex couples or any individual within a same-sex couple. Businesses and government, under the law, can regulate where transgender people go to the bathroom. The law allows mental health professionals and doctors, nurses and clinics to turn away LGBT individuals. It also allows state-funded adoption agencies to turn away LGBT couples." —Michelangelo Signorile, "Queer Voices," HuffPost, June 23, 2017


William Ruleman resides in east Tennessee. His newest books include the poetry collections From Rage to Hope (White Violet Press, 2016) and Munich Poems (Cedar Springs Books, 2016), as well as his translations of Hermann Hesse’s early poems (Cedar Springs Books, 2017) and Stefan Zweig’s unfinished novel Clarissa (Ariadne Press, 2017).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGULARI

by Edmund Conti


 Jim Morin, The Miami Herald, June 13, 2017


When should we start blushing
As the praises, they swell?
When the Cabinet is gushing
Is it too oily to tell?

When should we be stressed
By these fellows in tow?
When Dear Leader is blessed
Is it time that they go?

When should we be wary
When should we all frown
When each Secretary
Gets  his nose (or hers) brown?

Should we throw brickbats at ‘em
Or just let it pass
When this group seriatim
Starts kissing his ass.


Cartoon by Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 13, 2017


Edmund Conti doesn't need your praises but he wants them.

Friday, June 23, 2017

PARSING A BATTLE CRY

by Scot Ehrhardt


She was warned. She was given an explanation. 
Nevertheless, she persisted. Senator Mitch McConnell
Image source: Sharrock’s Blog


Virginia Woolf may have
momentarily occupied
your mouth,
Senator McConnell:
succinct declaratives
abuting an ornate
curleque of
nevertheless
—even the word alone,
a wild breath,
a skip step in an otherwise
ordinary gait—but it was more
than a whimsical lilt,
Miss Woolf layered in you
tricolon and parataxis,
asyndeton and omission
of the auxiliary verb
on the third of the triple.
You are a cautionary tale
of the danger
in cadence,
and when the granular
whisper of persisted
dissipated in the
velvet and mahogany,
the women knew,
the tattoo artists and
journalists knew, and Miss Woolf
did something so extraordinarily
unlike her
that elbow-patched
professors everywhere
had to google
what she looked like
when she smiled.


Scot Ehrhardt is a teacher and writer in Baltimore, MD. He writes poetry at an alarmingly slow rate, so it rarely appears in TheNewVerse.News. His first book One of Us Is Real is available through Smashwords, Inc.

MIXED MESSAGE: A HISTORY LESSON 2017

by Alan Catlin


Capitol Police drag disabled protesters out of wheelchairs during Trumpcare protests. Forty-three people were arrested in connection with the protest. In some instances, police helped protesters back into their wheelchairs before forcibly removing them, but others weren't treated so generously Jacquelyn Martin/AP via The Independent (UK) June 22, 2017.

This is what
the Fascists did
in the 1930s and 40s:

cleansed the race
of the genetically impure

the mentally ill
sexual deviants
gypsies
jews

the cripples
and the infirm

Now here
in Washington DC
Today in June of 2017

republicans release
details of crafted-in-secret
No Health Care bill

arrest the protestors
in the halls of Congress:

the disabled in wheelchairs
on oxygen
disability disadvantaged all

and either forcibly carry them out
or escort them from in front
of the Majority Leader of the Senate’s
office door outside

to where the box cars are waiting.





Alan Catlin is poetry editor of online journal misfitmagazine.net. His latest book of poetry is American Odyssey from Future Cycle Press.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

ON THESE DAYS

by Leslie Prosterman





On my way to drink a coffee in the park,
I ran into an old acquaintance
on the corner of 4th and Lafayette. She spoke
of reading stories to children at Bellevue,
teaching them to make meaning
out of abstract marks on the page.

All these days when I can only
read the news through
squinted eyes, as though
seeing print through blurred slits of light
would make the stories any less dire,

on these days I stop for any chance encounters
standing on concrete with people whose stories

I want to hear with open eyes.


Leslie Prosterman, author of Snapshots and Dances (Garden District Press, 2011) and other poems in various journals and collections, recently collaborated with composer Charley Gerard to set her poem "FluteBone Song" to music, now out on CD (Songs of Love and Passion).  A former academic, she is also a dancer and a sometime student of trapeze.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

SESTINA IN BROWN

by T R Poulson


UPS workers react at the scene where a gunman shot and killed multiple people including himself at a UPS facility in San Francisco, California on June 14, 2017. Several people were shot on Wednesday at a San Francisco warehouse and customer service facility operated by global parcel delivery service UPS, authorities and the company said. UPS spokeswoman Natalie Godwin told AFP the incident involved four workers at the sprawling facility, which employs 850 people. Photo credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images


The Warriors were on fire
we said: those crisp plays and passes
around the curved black line, the ball and net’s
dance, again and again, those hands
lifted like a lover’s wave. The players
taunted and shoved and said they were joking.

Game four was a joke.
Overseas, nobody laughed as the fire
climbed higher, higher, disrupting play
in bedrooms and out. Things curved and passed
and fell through smoke and flames. Hands
dropped a blanket-wrapped baby through the net

of smoke, as below there were no nets
to catch him (this was not a joke).
The baby fell, and different hands,
sure as Steph Curry’s, took him from fire
to something unknown, a no-look pass,
from love to a chance to make plays

on dark courts like the one where we played
off Arlington Street, Friday nights, the net
of work behind us as the moon made its pass
above us, until dawn loomed, and our jokes
grew strange.  Here, my memory’s fire
smolders.  Years pass, and still underhanded

bosses rule us, who judge and hand
out warning letters, or play
with our numbers, even try to fire
us, though our union’s safety net
saves us.  It was only a joke,
the bantering words that slanted and passed

among us, about a coworker who could pass
for a molester in a movie.  We pictured his hands
with a gun.  It was only a joke.
My buddy used to pretend, to play
the creepy coworker, his friendship a net:
“When he brings in a Glock, he won’t open fire

on me, and I’ll hand him a list.”  Names passed
between us:  the spitfire loader, the sorter with the net
stockings at home, the player of wives.  A joke.  A joke!


T R Poulson is a UPS driver out of the Menlo Park, California, center.  She attends community classes at Stanford, and her work has appeared previously in TheNewVerse.News, as well as in Verdad, Main Channel Voices, Alehouse, Trajectory, Wildcat Review, The Meadow, The Raintown Review, J Journal, and Verdad.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

MAY IT BE NOTED

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


PHOENIX — The Border Patrol raided a humanitarian aid group’s base camp in the Southern Arizona desert on Thursday and arrested four men who had crossed into the United States illegally, officials with Customs and Border Protection said. Volunteers with the group, No More Deaths, which gives water and first-aid care to migrants, said the men were from Mexico and were receiving emergency medical care at the camp, which had been raided by agents in the past. But this was the first time border agents had used a search warrant to gain entry, the group said in a statement, suggesting a change in strategy by the Border Patrol leadership in the region at a time when temperatures are soaring. Despite a history of tense relations with No More Deaths, the agency had previously abided by an informal, Obama-era agreement allowing migrants to seek medical help at the camp without fear of arrest. In an interview on Friday, the group’s founder, John Fife, characterized the raid as “clearly a strategy by the border agents to cripple and even make moot the lifesaving mission of a medical facility they had agreed to respect.” His fear, he said, is that word would get out among migrants seeking help that the No More Deaths camp is no longer safe, because of border agents’ attention on it. Several volunteer groups leave jugs of water and canned food for migrants and provide them with medical aid, but No More Deaths is one of the largest and the only one in Arizona with a permanent base in the desert. —The New York Times, June 16, 2017. Photo by No Mas Muertes.

to the humanitarian volunteers of No Mas Muertes


When the large histories are written
Of this place and time
May it be recorded in a footnote
In some tome
That our government recently sent
Its not-so-secret police
To destroy an encampment
Of people of good will
Offering water and medical help
To parched migrants
Completing a brutal desert crossing
In order to enter our country
Seeking a better life.
May it be noted
That those migrants were escaping
Bitter poverty
Political violence
Repressive regimes
Destruction of their lands
Supported by
The political and economic policies
Of our own country
Its corporations
Its clandestine agents.
May it be noted
That 30 armed officers
Of the not-so-secret police
Protected the security of our nation
Using 15 trucks, two all-terrain vehicles
And a helicopter
To arrest four migrants receiving medical care.
And may it be noted
That the humanitarian workers present
To assist the migrants
Had been providing such aid for many years
That even as our country
Spiraled deeper and deeper into a vortex
Of racism and xenophobia
There were those among us
Who still believed in providing water
For whoever was thirsty.


Volunteers with the aid group “No More Deaths” distributed water along desert migrant paths in 2013. Credit Josh Haner/The New York Times.


Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai'i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesdayand others. He has published several collections of poems, most recently, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World. His interviews with soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Monday, June 19, 2017

THIS GRIEF IS PARTISAN

by S.O.Fasrus


The burnt-out ruin of Grenfell Tower. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA via The Guardian, June 18, 2017.




even the air sighs for us
this grief is one breathe
this grief is the hum of nine poets
this grief has peeled skin
it is not shielded
from

lies, evasions
dissuasions

this grief
is a procession
this grief is an army of tears
the sun will not scorch it
the rain cannot drown it

this empty room
this charred field
this quiet road in the kernel of night
this aching of many hearts
this gallery of loss

our grief weaves a ribbon for flowers
oh small flower
oh white petal
even the birds cry for us
even the moon keeps silent


S.O.Fasrus has verses at LUPO and is currently writing a YA novel.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

THE KNITTER OF GENTLE DARKNESS

by Sean Lause


Self Portrait Along the Boarder Line Between Mexico and the United States, 1932, by Frida Kahlo


A Mexican girl sits knitting
as the night spreads out in dreams,
and old women dream of Autumn winds.

She knits time to space,
warmth to cold, love to
alone, strength to innocence.

She knits moons to their orbits,
needles clicking with the certainty of stars,
webbing the known and unknown.

She knits sweet shadows
that breathe a calm to longing,
and drink the emerald waning of the moon.

Her darkness rounds the world with sleep,
past crouching walls of fearful lands,
with the graceful wave of parting lovers.


Sean Lause is a professor of English at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio, United States.  His poems have appeared in The Minnesota Review, Another Chicago Magazine, The Alaska Quarterly, Atlanta Review, The Pedestal, The Beloit Poetry Journal, European Judaism, Illuminations, Sanskrit and Poetry International.  His first book of poems Bestiary of Souls was published in 2013 by FutureCycle Press.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

OH, YES, YOU CAN GET A MAN WITH A GUN: AMERICA CORRECTS ANNIE OAKLEY

by  George Salamon




"Guns recovered from Congressional shooter appear
legally purchased, FBI says." 
NBC, June 15, 2017

They didn't see nothin' yet,
Those cowboys and cops
Behind the O.K. Corral in Tombstone
Back in the wild and woolly West in 1881
When the Earps and Doc Holliday
Exchanged 30 bullets in 30 seconds
With the Clantons and McLaurys
And three men lay dead in the alley
Behind the corral that defines our legends
Of guns, guts and glory.
Shucks, three dead doesn't even classify
As a mass shooting these days.
You've got to kill four for that, and that's peanuts
In the year 2017, when by June 16
We've recorded 6,592 dead and 13, 635 injured by gunshot,
With 302 children age 11 and under among them,
Some hit in the 156 mass shootings so far.
In Tombstone, back in 1881 you were supposed to
Check your gun at the sheriff's office or the Grand Hotel,
"To control the violence,"  True West Magazine tells me.
Now the sheriff is busy hunting the undocumented
And the Grand Hotel has moved to a suburban mall.


Author’s note: The figures are taken from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA).

George Salamon lives just outside the city of St. Louis, MO.

Friday, June 16, 2017

THE QUESTION GULLS

by Alejandro Escudé


“Boy, some days I sure wish I was an ensign on the bridge of that destroyer again.” —Admiral Mike Rogers

It makes sense the Admiral would rather
be where the brackish sea-wind
sweeps away the confusion, where
the gulls are questions rising up into the air,
always answered. The 5-inch gun points
in one direction, whatever direction
it’s trained to point, no traitor likely
to sidle up to the Admiral on that deck,
no wickedness, because the enemy
of a destroyer isn’t wicked after it’s dubbed
“enemy.” Evil isn’t within the purview
of soldiers. Ask the Romans who had
to watch Christ drag his own cross.
They believe the only commandment
is the order. But the Admiral speaks
into his microphone and knows how
to translate I won’t tell on the president,
I’ve said enough, and you should know that.
There will be a closed-door meeting
in a room that they call a SCIF as if
the senators were anglers out on the sea,
nothing to do but discuss sensitive issues.


Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

LOVING V. VIRGINIA 1967

by Sally Zakariya




The case hit home for me—
Virginia born and bred, Love
is my middle name, chosen Southern
style for the great-great-somebody
who rode to college in a boxcar
through Confederate lines bringing
her piano and her favorite slave

Virginia Is for Lovers the slogan says
but only certain lovers in those days
certainly not me and the black man
I lived with way back when

A hundred years plus four it took
for marriage to catch up
with Mr. Lincoln’s proclamation
for a suffering nation to bind
this one heart-deep wound—
at least to make a start

I love Virginia’s hills and valleys
its rich red earth where blood
of black and white is mingled
where black and white lie
equal under headstones
but there’s still healing to be done
one nation divided
      still wounded
            still bleeding


Sally Zakariya’s poems have appeared in 60-some print and online journals. She is the author, most recently, of When You Escape (Five Oaks Press, 2016), as well as Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic and other verses (2011); and the editor of the poetry anthology Joys of the Table (2015).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

REFUGEES

by Terese Coe




The Vitae were not living.
The winds devolved to wild.
Their houses blown to powder,
the children were reviled.

The rancor unforgiving,
the slaughter undefined,
an end would come to giving,
then cursed was humankind.


Terese Coe’s poems and translations have appeared in 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Cincinnati Review, New American Writing, Ploughshares, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Agenda, The Moth, New Walk Magazine, New Writing Scotland, Poetry Review, the TLS, The Stinging Fly, and many other publications and anthologies. Her latest collection Shot Silk was nominated for The Poets Prize of 2017.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

AMBASSADOR OF GOOD WILL

by Edmund Conti




When meeting with Sergei Kislyak
Your memory falls through the crack.
There’s so much to discuss
With this welcoming Russ
That it’s awfully hard to keep track.


Edmund Conti is always happy to meet with the Russians to discuss the high price of vodka, have a few laughs, and trade military secrets.

Monday, June 12, 2017

LORDY, I HOPE THERE ARE TAPES

by Alan Walowitz


Image source: Canadian Business


You call up the stairs to tell me what we’ll need
to make it through the long night ahead.
The water’s running and I can hardly hear,
though you’re known to assert
that to listen and to hear were never meant to be the same.
No matter, we know this part always ends in a caustic, Nevermind.
I do hear you slam the door
and imagine your short sigh before heading off into your day.
I’m alone now and can make mine any way I’d like--
though, Lordy, I hope there are tapes
for later when I get to the grocery
and this great forgetfulness is bound to come over me
surrounded by the bounty of America:
shelves stacked with goods, no one could ever use, given even a lifetime;
the produce shaped into so many pyramids
we’d once hoped to visit, but now know we never will;
the prepared foods, chilled, and ready to be reheated and consumed
but where should we put them if left uneaten when our day is done?
This is a great land with so many choices
of who to believe and why, and infinite possibilities of what to buy,
so please don’t berate me when I call
to ask what I need to bring.
I know we already have everything
and are likely still to feel we’ve been taken, and underserved,
and finally and fatally, misunderstood.
Though, Lordy, I hope there are tapes
of the long night so long ago when we first fell for each other.


Alan Walowitz has been published in various places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in his native borough of Queens, NY. Alan’s chapbook Exactly Like Love was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

GAY PRIDE

by Scott Wiggerman


Images source: Cycle for the Cause


May we bike a wide expanse of untidy sands,
of outliers and isles of desert brush.

May we ride and ride, our eyes primed
to an iota of wild, a mite of wine

among the tumbleweeds and idle browns:
a bind of thriving cacti. Divine!

May we smile and find a vital prize,
a sign in the uncivilized silence,

a blooming lighthouse, a riot of pink fire,
our desired life, our private tribe.

May we ride inspired while our kind expires.
May we rise above the spineless of these times.


Scott Wiggerman is the author of three books of poetry, Leaf and Beak: Sonnets, Presence, and Vegetables and Other Relationships; and the editor of several volumes, including Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga, and Bearing the Mask.  Recent poems have appeared in A Quiet Courage, Calamus Journal, Red Earth Review, Rat’s Ass Review, shuf, and Chelsea Station. He is an editor for Dos Gatos Press of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

FALLEN HERO QUILTS

by Alan Catlin




Each square represents
another life lost in

middle eastern war zone—
eight in the series
shown here in early June

Some panels are hand
sewn, artful, professional,
with pictures, testimonials

from loved ones

Others are hand written
scrolled with mistakes

but the feeling of loss
and emotion is clear

Next year more panels
will be sewn

another quilt
assembled

Maybe two


Alan Catlin is poetry editor of online journal misfitmagazine.net. His latest book of poetry is American Odyssey from Future Cycle Press.

Friday, June 09, 2017

ON REJECTING THE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD

by David Radavich


Photo by Ivan Vargas at Gizmodo.

Ashes gather
at the bottom
of the fire
we have made.

It is a weekday
night like any other,
an announcement
of denial,
a death of desire.

Somehow our soil
and vegetation
must survive
without us.

Somehow we
want to die alone
and small.

We fly toward
this conflagration
like widows,
like moths.


David Radavich's recent poetry collections are America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007), Canonicals: Love's Hours (2009), and Middle-East Mezze (2011).   His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe.  His latest books are The Countries We Live In (2014) and a co-edited volume called Magic Again: Selected Poems on Thomas Wolfe (2016).  He has served as president of The Thomas Wolfe Society, Charlotte Writers' Club, and North Carolina Poetry Society.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

COVFEFE

by Martin H. Levinson




He was always a thug with a coarse mouth, peacock swagger,
   and a proclivity to break rules like his paterfamilias who
wouldn’t rent to African Americans but sent his misbehaving boy
   to military school to learn how to play football, stick it to losers,
and escape the draft so as to not serve in Vietnam or praise
   John McCain for being captured rather than killing the enemy
in real estate deals that were too big to fail or have T***p

put into jail for hiring undocumented workers to mount his name
   on glitzy Gotham towers and gaudy gambling casinos that
went bust in New Jersey where busts are bounteous and
   pussies can be grabbed for the asking if you are a celebrity
palling around with Russians, wrestlers, and rapscallions from
   Fox and Friends who want to make America great again
like it was in the eighteen fifties when blacks were chattel and

nativist numbskulls were not considered nattering nabobs of
   negativity by their supporters but impassioned Neanderthals
capable of challenging Obama’s citizenship and backing a
   Muslim ban and a Slavic first lady who under our nation’s new
immigration rules would have been a deportation priority during
   the nineteen nineties when her husband did not report hundreds of
millions of dollars in taxable income by using a tenuous tax maneuver

later outlawed by a Congress that is now led by a Cheesehead from
   Wisconsin and a prune face from Kentucky who loves coal more than
the proles who work the mines in a state which ranks forty-seventh in
   educational attainment, is solidly Republican, and has a constituency
the POTUS respects as much as Marla Maples who learned she was
   being divorced by reading about it in the New York Post rather than
seeing it on TV where Jim Comey found out he had been fired as

Director of the FBI and students from T***p University discovered
   they had been defrauded by a corpulent con man who thought
climate change was bogus, Mexicans were bad hombres, and
a nasty woman was making life difficult on the campaign trail
   by calling the star of the Apprentice Putin’s puppet, a teller of
untruths and a fellow unfit for the highest office in the land
   of the me, the home of the knave, and the dockets red glare,

lawsuits bursting in air, gave proof through the night that
   our hate was where it has forever been—gays, the elites,
liberals, immigrants, people of color and those perceived as
   getting a good deal in a global economy that features
home runs for the rich, strikeouts for the poor and
   lies hit down the foul line that T***p always calls fair.  


Martin H. Levinson is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, PEN, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published nine books and numerous articles and poems in various publications. He holds a PhD from NYU and lives in Forest Hills, New York.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

TICK MAGNET

by Laura Rodley


When President Donald Trump announced last week that he was pulling the US out of the Paris climate accord, Yale epidemiology researcher Katharine Walter felt gutted. “[Global warming] is already happening,” she said, “and the effects are already here.” Walter studies Lyme disease, the tick-borne illness that’s spreading frighteningly quickly in the Eastern and Midwestern US, due in part to climate change. Lyme cases have more than doubled since the 1990s, and the number of counties that are now deemed high-risk for Lyme has increased by more than 320 percent in the same period. 2017 is also shaping up to be a particularly bad year for Lyme. “These effects of climate change will be felt globally, but also here in the US,” Walter said, “and here in New York, in Trump’s backyard.” —Vox, June 6, 2017

So quick these late springtime ticks
brown ones, tiny black ones, ones
with orange bellies, crawling
on my pants, on the underbelly
of the horse, attaching themselves
even to the paws of my dog.
Relent I ask, but there’s no
connection to the mind of a tick,
no telepathy, they have only one
thing in mind and that’s appeasing
their hunger, fast, and they’ll
climb anywhere to get there;
they are not even afraid of your hand
reaching down for them:
they have no fear,
maybe they have no eyes.
Certainly I haven’t seen any eyes yet,
but boy, they know how to march
carrying lyme and anaplasmosis
in their bite. Relent, ticks, relent.


Laura Rodley's New Verse News poem “Resurrection” won a Pushcart Prlze and was published in the 2013 edition of the Pushcart anthology. She was nominated twice before for the Prize as well as for Best of the Net. Her chapbook Rappelling Blue Light, a Mass Book Award nominee, won honorable mention for the New England Poetry Society Jean Pedrick Award. Her second chapbook Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose was also nominated for a Mass Book Award and a L.L.Winship/Penn New England Award. Both were published by Finishing Line Press.  Co-curator of the Collected Poets Series, she teaches creative writing and works as contributing writer and photographer for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  She edited As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology, Volume I and Volume II.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

ANTENORA

by Alejandro Escudé

after Dante Alighieri




There is Jared Kushner encased in ice
Packed close to Trump gnawing

On Kushner’s head, the two shades
Wrapped in ice sheets reflecting

A mounting body of dishonesty,
A gold, Cyrillic script disappearing

As it appears, the demons awake
Long as the scroll takes, unwinding

Then winding again while the brute
Chews his son-in-law’s brain casing.

Silent, the pale skull, save for murmurs
Of a backchannel to Satan’s wing.

Beside these, Michael Flynn pecks
The bodies of wicked soldiers offering

Themselves to the stern-faced bird
Whose frozen beak prevents dining.

All this I see, with my poet guide,
Walt Whitman, beside me, the fattening

Of America, its undoing, still circles
Ahead of us, more furies unfurling.


Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Monday, June 05, 2017

LONDONER'S VOW

by Devon Balwit

Source: Twitter


I will not put my beer down.
Run me into the goddamn ground,
but I will finish the glass I earned
even as my old assumptions burn.
Over my tongue will slide the bitter
swallows, and I’ll return to pay the tab, better
than all destroying bastards. I’ll not
stay home tomorrow either, nor ought
you. Up and out to pubs and bridges,
resistance a sword, our presence its edges.


Devon Balwit teaches and writes in Portland, OR.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

LIKE YOU, MARGARET COURT

by Diane Elayne Dees


“Court, 74, now a pastor in Perth, has reignited debate about her legacy and how the sport should celebrate her by making a series of inflammatory comments recently about gays and same-sex marriage. Her beliefs are not new — her public comments first stirred protests in 2012 — but her unflinching remarks have provoked some current players to say they would object to playing on a court named after her.” –The New York Times, May 31, 2017


I wonder if you know your Kinsey number,
or is it just too scary to report,
and might it go a long way to encumber
the zeal of someone like you, Margaret Court?

It's a rare thing to be a Kinsey zero,
whether you're in business, school, or sport,
and though you claim that Jesus is your hero,
I'm not sure he would like you, Margaret Court.

The last I checked, no lesbians were seducing
the players who you say were not their sort.
Besides, it doesn't take too much deducing
to conclude they wouldn't like you, Margaret Court.

Too bad for you, gay marriage is in fashion,
and your words of fear and hate do not comport
with your Bible's call to love and show compassion—
But isn't that just like you, Margaret Court?


Diane Elayne Dees's poems have been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane, who lives in Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women's professional tennis worldwide. (In December, Women Who Serve featured a re-write of A Christmas Carol, in which Margaret Court appeared as Scrooge.)

Saturday, June 03, 2017

WISDOM TAKES A HOLIDAY

On T***p’s Withdrawal from the Climate Agreement

by Jon Wesick


Lincoln plants cotton on the White House lawn.
Rachel Carson sprays Agent Orange.
Martin Luther King hoists the confederate flag.
Gandhi stops at a steakhouse
on his way to the shooting range.

Crick and Watson blow their Nobel Prize money
on swizzle sticks and lotto tickets.
Jacques Cousteau moves to Arizona.
Einstein downs a six-pack of PBR
before getting behind the wheel of his GTO.
Jonas Salk shares dirty needles in Haitian crack houses.

Picasso enters his finger-painting period.
Mozart releases his 99 Bottles of Beer Symphony.
e.e. cummings WRITES IN CAPITAL LETTERS.
Julia Child dazzles guests with beef jerky à l’orange.
Dave Brubeck and McCoy Tyner embark
on their International Chopsticks Tour.

Stephen Hawking competes
in the Ultimate Fighting Challenge.
Bobby Fischer takes up checkers.
Elon Musk trades space flight and electric cars
for Pez dispensers. Warren Buffet
wires money to an exiled Nigerian prince.
Jean Paul Sartre guest stars
on Jackass.


Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Metal Scratches, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. The editors of Knot Magazine nominated his story “The Visitor” for a Pushcart Prize. His poem “Meditation Instruction” won the Editor’s Choice Award in the 2016 Spirit First Contest. Another poem “Bread and Circuses” won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists Contest. Jon is the author of the poetry collection Words of Power, Dances of Freedom as well as several novels.

Friday, June 02, 2017

EMBARRASSED BY PARIS

by David Feela




Let the Eiffel Tower
dim its lights,
not in tribute
to the victims
of terrorist bombs,
but let it go dark
as a reminder
for any who counts
on light that it will not
be found in America,
home of the coal-fired heart,
where a dull intellectual climate
muffles the air,
and where truth
has turned into
a stale commodity
only fit
to feed the poor.


David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. His new book of essays How Delicate These Arches released through Raven's Eye Press, has been chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.

THE GERMAN LESSON

by George Salamon


Politico

“'The Germans are bad, really bad,' Donald Trump tells EU officials.”
          —The Telegraph, May 26, 2017
"What Germany can teach the US about democracy.”
          —Financial Times, February 8, 2017


Say it ain't so
About our old foe:
While in the home of the brave
We've gone from sweet liberty
To Donald T***p's entropy
In his limitless calamity.
But the Germans, baby,
Have come a long way
From the Kaiser's aristocracy
Via Hitler's atrocity
To celebrate democracy.

Ain't history grand?


For two decades George Salamon taught German language and literature at several East Coast colleges. This German lesson was not on the syllabus of his courses.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

SPELL CHECK

by Jennifer Hernandez


Image source: REDBUBBLE


The constant covfefe
leaves me breathless,
when you voceffe
so close to me, makes
me want to run to our
special effecov and sip
a coffeev.  My evoceff—
so hip, so now—mingles
with ecoveff—so green &
environmentally friendly.
If I wasn’t suffering from
fecovef, didn’t have this
lingering evecoff, I wouldn’t
effvoce like I do. I’d be my old
voffcee self, singing voceffe
at the top of my fefevoc lungs.


Jennifer Hernandez lives in Minnesota where she works with immigrant youth and writes poetry, flash, and creative non-fiction. Much of her recent writing has been colored by her distress at the dangerous nonsense that appears in her daily news feed. She is marching with her pen. Recent work appears in Anti-Heroin Chic, Dying DahliaTheNewVerse.News, Yellow Chair Review, and Writers Resist.

COVFEFE

by Jonel Abellanosa


Image source: Joey Mancuso


If you want to wag the dog, covfefe!
If you want people to take their eyes
            off your hands, covfefe!
If you want to distract the FBI, covfefe!
If you want to distract the media, covfefe!
If you want to calm yourself, covfefe!
If you want anger management, covfefe!
If you want to enrich yourself from
            the environment’s degradation
            without people noticing, covfefe!
If you are just simply dumb, covfefe!
If you are faker than the news you peddle,
            covfefe!
If you are corrupt as hell, covfefe!

If you want to covfefe the planet, enjoy!
If you want to covfefe NATO, enjoy!
If you want to covfefe yourself,
            don’t bring the rest of us
                        with you!
Just covfefe yourself !

We don’t give a covfefe!


Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines.  His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Marsh Hawk Review, Anglican Theological Review, Star*Line,  Poetry Kanto, Spirit Fire Review, Carbon Culture Review, The McNeese Review, GNU Journal and Dark Matter Literary Journal.  He has two chapbooks, Pictures of the Floating World (Kind of a Hurricane Press) and The Freeflowing All (Black Poppy Review).  He is a Pushcart Prize and Dwarf Stars Award nominee.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

LOVE & HATE ON A PORTLAND TRAIN

after the last words of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche

by Scott C. Kaestner





hate versus love on a train
hate slashes at love, stabs
love in the heart, claims two
brave souls who defended
love in the face of hate and
as love lays dying on that train
a victim of hate, one last brave act
one last message of love, one last
ounce of love to give offering hope

"Tell them, I want everybody to know, I want everybody on the train to know, I love them."


Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet, a dad, Lakers fan, guacamole aficionado, and leftist dreamer. Google 'scott kaestner poetry' to peruse his musings.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE

by Robert Lee Whitmire


B-52 Vietnam


Empty sentiment confounds me,
irritates me, angers me if truth
be told, causes me to see red
but pretend it’s not red.
Today
is Memorial Day,
and I hear
‘Thank You for Your Service’,
empty words showering star-spangled
fireworks on endless rows of white
headstones marking graves
of fell-too-soon human beings.

Oh, say can you see the rockets' bright glare
As green and red tracers tattoo the air?

My ‘service’ was no service to anyone,
least of all the people for whom
I was supposed to be putting my life
at risk. I served hubris, avarice
and a white nation’s desire to beat
another nation of obdurate brown
people into bloody submission.

AKs, 16s, rip like shredding guitars as
Ribbons of cannon fire hurl from the stars

I was the lightning that set the house
on fire, that killed everyone inside,
then struck again and again
and again, killing  killing  killing.
I was a tool, an instrument, a useful
fool ‘serving’ people who shamelessly
drafted or coaxed me and mine to do
the unspeakable in service of the indefensible.

But you believe you are sincere and so you
thank me, and I say ‘You’re welcome’ even
though you are not welcome--but the alternative
is for me to explode in your face like one of those
‘Bouncing Betties’ Charlie used to salt
jungle paths. Or I might infect you like a
shit-tipped punji stick, or turn into a child
wired with C-4 running towards you while
I hide in the trees, finger on detonator.

And children of God entreat for their lives,
Himself in His Heaven is deaf to their cries. 

How does it serve you for me to kill
a child running to kill me and mine,
who is innocent of any crime yet must pay
for that innocence with its life?
How does it serve you for me to fly a B-52
over a landscape tens of thousands of feet
below, dropping stick after stick of
aerodynamic death, more bombs than
fell in all of the Second World War?
How does it serve you for me to kill
more than a million human beings
who did nothing  nothing  nothing
to deserve their fates?

Words, no matter how polite or currently
sincere, are not welcome from those who met
us half a century ago when we were young
and thought ‘finally, safe at home.’ Remember?
Did you spit? Curse? Call us baby killers?
Did you get on your draft-deferred high horse
and go sanctimonious all over our asses? Are
you one of those who now wants to send
more young people to fight and die and kill
more brown people because they won’t
see our truth?

Do not thank me for a service I did not render.

Moans of the dying fading slowly to dead:
Perpetual harmony of fire and of lead.


Robert Lee Whitmire is a Vietnam veteran, a husband, a socially progressive Unitarian, and a retired journalist, photographer, and social worker currently living in Maine and doting on his two small grandchildren.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

OUTSIDE THE TURKISH AMBASSADOR'S HOUSE

by Bruce Dale Wise


Source: The New York Times


Outside the Turk ambassador's house, Erdogan looked on,
while a man came to Ceren Borazan with open arms.
He was drawn to her chanting voice. He grabbed her from behind,
and gripped her neck so tightly, she was scared out of her mind.
The people suffering in Turkey, far way from them,
when he was yelling—kill you, bitch—they could not have heard him.

The men in suits, the bodyguards of Tayyip Erdogan,
had come to roust protesters out—Kurds and Armenians.
Attackers kicked one woman as she lay curled on a walk;
Abbas Aziz, a teacher, got a lesson in free talk.
He was knocked to the ground by men, and kicked in chest and head.
This is America, this is not Ankara, he said.


Bruce Dale Wise is a poet, essayist, and the creator of new poetic forms. His publication credits include magazines and ezines under his own name and various pseudonyms.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

THE CLOWN CAR

by Kyle Norwood




The clownishness of evil sometimes seems
To parody itself―buffoonish stare,
Garishly painted skin, foam-rubber hair―
Caricatures from circus-haunted dreams:

You’re in the stands and join in the applause;
Here comes the clown car, tiny as a toy,
While speakers blast Beethoven’s Ode to Joy,
But you don’t see how odd that is, because
You’re watching as the little car spits out
Clown after clown, burlesques of vim and pep,
With fake pink smile or red audacious pout.
One pounds a drum; the others dance in step
With flying feet in giant floppy boots.
Some moon the crowd, and some are even cruder,
Insulting us with boorish pantomime.
 (A choir sings Alle menschen werden brüder
Over the speakers, deafeningly loud.)
Looking around, you see that half the crowd            
Are dressed in frilly polka-dotted suits,                      
Hooting and stomping.  Clearly they approve.          
Meanwhile the clown car crew is on the move:  
Some run to block the exits; others climb  
Into the stands; two of them seek you out,
Surround you, grab you, lift you from your spot,
And drag you toward the ring of blinding light.
“Why me?” You cry.  “Why me?  What did I do?”
The folks in normal clothing turn their backs.
Last from the clown car steps a black-and-white-
Faced, bulging-muscled hulk, wielding an ax:
His hate-filled eyes are staring straight at you.




Kyle Norwood is the winner of the 2014 Morton Marr Poetry Prize from Southwest Review. His poems have also recently appeared in New Ohio Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Carolina Quarterly, Devilfish Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Lake (U.K.), Light, Right Hand Pointing, and the anthology Poems for a Liminal Age. He lives in Los Angeles, where he earned a doctorate in English at UCLA.

Friday, May 26, 2017

COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS

by Devon Balwit




HONG KONG — Speaking at the University of Maryland, Yang Shuping, a graduating senior from China, sprinkled her upbeat commencement speech with observations that drew warm applause: The air was far cleaner in the United States than in China, she said, and she could openly discuss racism, sexism and politics in ways that she had never before dreamed possible. Growing up in China, “I was convinced that only authorities owned the narrative,” Ms. Yang, a theater and psychology major from the southern city of Kunming, told the crowd in a basketball arena in College Park, Md. “Only authorities could define the truth.” The speech on Sunday drew harsh criticism, however, from some of Ms. Yang’s Chinese classmates in Maryland and from legions of social media users in China, many of whom accused her of selling out her homeland. Even the city of Kunming weighed in, saying in a message on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, that her comments about the city’s air pollution were “not related to us.” —The New York Times, May 23, 2017


“…we count the whale immortal in his species however perishable in his individuality.”
                                                                                                 —Herman Melville


You speak your truth, and you are blacklisted
or must flee a social media shit-storm, the hard

shoulders that knock you out of true as you pass by.
Someone, somewhere messes with your data. Perhaps

you will shut up, shocked that your opinions matter,
but in ways you didn’t expect. You realize that you

are dangerous, a drop that can coagulate with others,
a splash that can thicken to storm. Of course, they

want you silent, but you, my friend, are immortal
in your species, however perishable singly. Though

they make this day a sinkhole, take the long view:
the ones to come freer for your hacking at the vines.


Devon Balwit is a teacher/poet living in Portland, OR. She has four chapbooks—How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press), Forms Most Marvelous (forthcoming with dancing girl press), In Front of the Elements, and Where You Were Going Never Was (both forthcoming with Grey Borders Books). Some recent poems can be found in The Non-Binary Review, The Cincinnati Review, The Almagre Review, The Stillwater Review, The Tule Review, Red Earth Review, The Free State Review, Front Porch, Concis.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

DANGEROUS WOMEN

by Elizabeth S. Wolf




It was her first concert
out with friends. The gang of girls.
Besties since babies, they said.
They picked outfits and did their hair,
one high ponytail,  smoky eyes. They listened
to their parents lecture and promised
to follow the signs and obey the rules and
not take drinks from strangers and
oh my god mom, relax. It’s a concert.
Not a bar. Not a North-West Derby
brawl. Just a bunch of girls
dancing and screaming to their
favorite songs. It was Ariana Grande
live on stage: Manchester Arena
Manchester England
22 May 2017.

Three girls, who decided
at the last minute not to wear
kitten ears- three bold teens
walked into the concert as if
they owned the world.

One girl died on the floor,
shattered; the last thing she saw
bouquets of pink balloons
rising towards the ceiling.

The second girl bled from wounds
scattered about her body. She is
in hospital now, hooked up to tubes,
waiting on tests. For several hours
she asked so many questions, over
and over, but now she does not.
She answers the doctors queries,
shifts for the nurses hands: yes, her
ears are still ringing; yes, she still
smells burnt tubing. She sips water
and stares. Shell shock, they whisper.
Her ma and da take turns at her
bedside or tending the others
back home.

The third girl went home
uninjured. She spent a little
longer in the loo and got
separated from her friends.
She lost her voice
screaming for hours.
Now she won’t talk, doesn’t
eat, doesn’t drink. She lies
curled on her bed, clutching
the string from a pink
balloon. When she goes
to the bathroom, her mum
stands by the doorway, crooning
a lullaby. They call her
uninjured, because
she didn’t bleed
at the scene.

She lay in her bed while
day broke up night, again
and again. And on the third
day she called her mum.
Mum, she whispered, wide eyed,
after the bomb there was blood
on the walls, I got so scared.
I was alone! she said,
alone alone. But then
I saw a lady, almost like you,
and she stopped running to lift
up a little girl who had fell.
And the girl, she just hung
on, and I remembered to
look for the helpers.

That’s right, said her mum,
stroking her hair. Look for
the helpers.

And then I was running and screaming
and in the big room, in the hotel,
there was a lady, black as pitch, she
smelled like soap, said the girl. And
I was shaking and looking all around
and she came and held me. I
don’t even know who she is.

That was Amina, said her mum.
She works for the hotel, she
cleans the rooms. She left her own
country to flee the bombs and
find food.  Now she lives here.
And found you.

Mum, said the girl. I know what I want
to do now. I know.

What’s that? asked her mum.

I want to be a helper, said the
girl. And she got out of bed.


Author’s note: Characters and some incidents in this narrative are fictional although descriptions are based on news reports from Manchester.

Elizabeth S. Wolf writes because telling stories is how we make sense of our world, how we heal, and how we celebrate. She seeks that sliver of truth amidst the chattering monkey mind. Also, she sings loudly while driving. Elizabeth’s chapbook What I Learned: Poems is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in fall 2017.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CHOSEN VENUES

by Joan Colby


Where you are dancing.
Where you celebrate.
Where the bands play.
Where you congregate for coffee
Or conversation. Or to view the match
Or the marathon.
Anywhere you go to enjoy
Invites the strike. The explosive vest
Or car aimed at the thick of things.
What they seek to destroy is this:
Free pleasure. The authoritarian shift
To beheadings in an arena
Where you learn what to expect.


Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers and How the Sky Begins to Fall (Spoon River Press), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press), Dead Horses and Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), and Properties of Matter (Aldrich Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.